Reporters on the Job
• Backpacker Havens No Longer? Most of the casualties in the brazen attacks in Mumbai, India, were Indian citizens. But many other nations lost citizens as well. In Israel, there is particular dismay at the targeting of a Jewish center in the city, says correspondent Josh Mitnick.Skip to next paragraph
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Every year, he notes, tens of thousands of backpackers traipse from India's Himalyan foothills to the sunny beaches of Goa. In something of a rite of passage, they rent motorcycles and join ashrams to escape from the tensions of the Middle East.
"In December 2006, I traveled to Goa to write about Israelis who were celebrating New Year's even though the Israeli antiterrorism bureau put out a travel advisory warning about attacks targeting Israelis," Josh says. "Despite those, hundreds of Israelis stayed in Goa. But that attitude may change after last week's attack. "
With banner headlines like "The Killing Valley," Israel's top newspapers competed with one another to offer accounts from Israeli tourists trapped in the hotels and the attack on the Jewish center, Josh says. Media outlets dispatched journalists to augment the special reports. Special attention has been focused on Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, the directors of the center whose 2-year-old son was saved by a nanny.
"Though the attacks now are being seen as indiscriminate in their targets, Israelis don't believe the choice of Nariman house – a religious center run by the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic sect where five residents were killed – was coincidental," Josh says. Instead, the reaction is as if an attack had targeted an Israeli diplomatic mission. "The Jewish centers – which can be found in every city along the Israeli backpacker route – function as a home away from home. A debate has emerged about whether the Israeli government should be providing security at the centers."
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor